Monday, July 29, 2013

Roasted Vegetable Mac & Cheese

I've never had any particular infatuation for cheese.  Sure, like most people, I have fond memories of childhood meals of grilled cheese with soup or hot dogs with macaroni and cheese.  Today, however, my more refined palate prefers only occasional cheese.  When I do indulge, I opt for finely crafted strong cheeses paired perfectly with crackers, fig spread, candied walnuts, and fresh fruit.  Something along these lines, perhaps:

It's important to note that the giant loaf of hot, crusty sourdough bread is missing.
Despite this preference for formality, last week I had a major craving for a dish that I had virtually created in my head - ROASTED VEGETABLE MAC AND CHEESE.

The combination of robust flavors from the roasting of the vegetables and the flavorful yet not too creamy cheese sauce, combine to make a craving-worthy bowl of pasta.  To amp up the protein, I used quinoa pasta and mixed lentils in to the final product.  While it may not be an elegant dish, I'll just say that I made it for dinner Sunday night, and I spent a majority of the day Monday counting down the hours until I could reheat a plate for dinner.


4 cups chopped vegetables (broccoli, onion, bell pepper, shitake mushrooms, radishes)
3 tbsp EVOO
1 tbsp salt
3/4 cup lentils, cooked
2 cups pasta. cooked
2 tbsp coconut oil
3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
2 tbsp flour
1 cup almond milk
1 tsp turmeric
1/8 tsp cumin
1 tsp cracked black pepper
3 tbsp nutritional yeast
1 cup grated cheese

1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
2. Toss chopped veggies with EVOO, sprinkle with salt, and place on a greased baking sheet.  Bake for 40 minutes.
3. While the veggies are cooking, prepare the lentils.  Set to the side.
4. Prepare the pasta.  Combine with the lentils.
5. With 10 minutes remaining for the vegetables, bring a small pot to medium heat.  Add the coconut oil.  When the oil is sizzling, add the garlic and stir consistently until the garlic browns.
6. Add the flour to the garlic oil and stir to combine, making a roux.
7. Slowly add the almond milk, followed by the spices and nutritional yeast.  Continue stirring consistently until the mixture begins to gently simmer, approximately 5 minutes.
8.  Add the grated cheese and cook until a smooth texture is achieved.
9.  Remove the roasted vegetables from the oven.
10. In a large bowl, combine the pasta, lentils, roasted vegetables, and cheese sauce.
11. Pour into a greased casserole dish, cover, and bake in the oven for 15 minutes.
12.  Serve pipping hot from the oven

** Choose any combination of vegetables - zucchini, squash, greens, tomatoes - all would work well.
** For pasta, I used Ancient Harvest Quinoa Garden Pagodas.  Any macaroni, ziti, or spiral shape will soak up the great flavors of the cheese sauce.

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